Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine

Watch for the documentary film, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine, coming this fall on PBS. The film explores Jefferson’s passion for fine wine and the trials and tribulations of his efforts to introduce wine culture and European vines to the U.S. and Virginia. Easilly the most passionate wine lovers of all the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in bringing vines to the New World.

From Albemarle Magazine Nov. 2005 by John Kelly, "In 1993, a mere 250 years after his birth, Wine Spectator named Thomas Jefferson "Man of the Year." His contributions to wine in America are behind the upcoming PBS documentary, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine, executive produced and directed by John Harrington and written by University of Virginia alumnus Alessandro (Sam) Santarelli."

From WGBH in Boston:
Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine
This program explores Thomas Jefferson's lifelong passion for wine and his efforts to introduce wine culture and European vines to the United States. From his early experiments with Italian vignerons at Monticello to his grand tour through France and Italy, through his years in the White House and his later efforts at Monticello, the program offers viewers a visual journey through the life of the founding father of American viticulture. It culminates in a celebration of Jefferson's legacy to American wine, realized first in California and now burgeoning in many states, including Virginia. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and featuring an original music score.

From Jefferson Vineyards:
The story of Jefferson Vineyards, and the modern Virginia wine industry, begins in 1773 with a meeting at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello between Mr. Jefferson and Italian winemaker and industrialist Fillipo Mazzei, who planned to produce wines, oils and silks for sale in the Colonies. The idea intrigued Jefferson, famous for his love of the wines of Bordeaux,and he invested in Mazzei’s company. Jefferson’s influence attracted other investors, including George Washington, George Mason and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Virginia.

Mazzei started with 400 acres of land adjoining Monticello on which he would plant vineyards and build his home, Colle. After surveying the property, Mazzei declared, much to Jefferson’s delight, “I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this." While overseeing the construction of his home, Mazzei stayed with Jefferson at Monticello, and so began their life-long relationship.

With the construction of Colle underway, Mazzei began planting in the early Spring of 1774, marking the beginning of the commercial wine industry in the Colonies, and what would become – some 200 years later -- Jefferson Vineyards.

The Revolutionary War ended Mazzei’s efforts to make wine, when our country's founding fathers sent Mazzei back to Italy to solicit war funds from the Duke of Tuscany. While away, Mazzei rented Colle to an imprisoned Hessian General captured at Saratoga, NY and housed in the Charlottesville barracks. The general’s horses made quick work of the vineyards, which then fell to ruin, and all – for a time -- was lost.


Los Angeles California KCET - Sunday, November 6, 4:00pm
Portland Oregon Oregon Public Broadcasting - Sunday, November 6,

Richmond Virginia WCVE - Sunday, November 6, 9:00pm, Tuesday, November
8, 9:00pm, Sunday, November 13th, 2:00pm

Charlottesville, Virginia, WHTJ - Tuesday, November 8, 9:00pm, Sunday,
November 13th, 2:00pm

Hampton Roads, Virginia WHRO - Thursday, November 17, 10:00 p.m.
Lexington, Kentucky, KET - Thursday, Nov 3 at 10:00 pm, Friday, Nov 4
at 8:00 pm, Saturday, Nov 5 at 9:00 pm

Houston Texas, Houston PBS - Sunday, November 06, 2005 4:00 PM
Boston WGBH, Ch. 2/44 Sun, Nov 6, 5am, WGBH 44, Tue, Nov 29,
7pm, WGBH World (209)

Washington, DC, WETA's HD channel Thursday, November 3, 8:00pm

Sunday 11/6, 5:00am, on WSKG, Binghamton and WCNY, Syracuse

Oregon Public Broadcasting, (DTV) Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 12:00 PM (view schedule)
(TV) Sunday, November 6, 2005 at 11:00 PM (view schedule)

WGBH channels only on Comcast
Tue, Nov 29, 7pm, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 2am, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 8am, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 2pm, WGBH World (209)